With island hopping opportunities aplenty, picturesque coastline, rugged mountains, and ancient ruins, it’s little wonder Croatia has experienced a huge tourism boom in recent years. In fact, this laidback Balkan country is not only a hit with families and honeymooners, but party crowds too, thanks to the vibrant nightlife and festivals hosted on the islands.
Croatia is becoming one of the most popular destinations for young groups in Europe, but with the sheer variety of enthralling options this small country offers, it can be difficult to settle on the perfect place for you and your friends to visit. After all, holidays don’t last forever, and if you’re like us, you’ll want them to be as memorable as possible.
Luckily for you, we’ve compiled this list of some of the best places in Croatia for young people from the dynamic cities to the buzzing beach resorts. Let’s get into it.
Kickstarting our list, we have the cosmopolitan island town of Hvar, where luxury yachts, romantic vineyards, chic nightclubs, and medieval fortresses live in perfect harmony. Truth be told, this island is one of the best places to be at the height of summer, even with the bustling crowds. The lively old center is flanked by laidback coastlines, with beach clubs side by side with upmarket restaurants. Hvar is the best best of both worlds and island life might come at a slightly higher price than the mainland, but it will be worth it if you want to experience the very best of Croatian nightlife.
Hvar also plays host to some of Europe’s most popular music festivals like Ultra, and you’ll find an eclectic mix of lively nightclubs, cocktail bars, and first-rate restaurants in the town center. So, be sure to pack your dancing shoes. Plus, you’ll find several incredible sandy beaches to the north of the island, many of which remain relatively uncrowded.
For starters, there’s Dubovica beach. You’ll have to undertake a bit of a journey to get there since it’s only reachable via a fairly steep footpath, but it’s well worth the effort. You’ll be rewarded with jaw-droppingly clear waters, and magnificent blue skies reaching as far as the eye can see, as well as an easy-going beach bar with a unique atmosphere.
Next, you could visit the incredible Pokonji Dol beach, where you’ll find awe-inspiring views of the offshore church nearby, watersports activities, and of course, dazzling turquoise waters. You could even visit one of the breathtaking bays on its small, neighboring islands too.
The serene, historic island of Zadar has a whole lot going for it besides serving as a gateway to one of Croatia’s best beaches. Not only does this charming destination offer a variety of annual festivals, a slew of enchanting national parks, and a host of gorgeous beaches, but it houses a giant, solar-powered dancefloor.
It’s called the “Monument to the Sun”, and you’ll find it on the edge of the waterfront, along with another infamous contemporary landmark named the “Sea Organ”. It’s a quirky art installation, consisting of underwater pipes that sound musical notes when filled with water, creating a sound similar to a harmonica. The landmarks are popular sites to catch the sunset with ice cream or picnic and enjoy the local live music and buskers that bring the city to life as the sun starts to go down.
Zadar also has no shortage of boutique hotels, lively hostels, and exceptional foodie hotspots serving delectable Northern Dalmatian cuisine. You’ll also find a host of lively watering holes, and upmarket lounge bars in its historic Old Town, where you’re likely to rub shoulders with a diverse mix of students, artists, and hipsters. To top it all off, the island serves as a popular home base for several well-regarded music festivals held on the neighboring islands of Pag and Tisno.
Next up on our list, is the ever-popular city Split, which is the second-biggest metropolitan area in Croatia after Zagreb, and one of its biggest ports. It’s a city that offers a beautiful mix of history and modernity, thanks to its incredible landmarks, and the labyrinth of bustling streets.
On top of this, you’ll find an incredible variety of sweeping beaches and rocky coves in or just outside of the city, along with a host of vibrant, hedonistic nightlife hotspots in its Old Town. Bacvice beach, located just a stone’s throw from the historic Roman ruins of Diocletian’s Palace, is one of the main sandy spots in the city.
This typically bustling bay offers an enthralling mix of leisurely relaxation, thanks to its inviting, shallow waters, as well as unforgettable nightlife experiences due to the esteemed bars and clubs that line the shore. You’ll also find a wide variety of more secluded, rocky beaches a little further from the city center.
Best of all, Split is the region’s main transport point, which means its diverse neighboring islands like the cosmopolitan Hvar, reserved Vis and outdoorsy Brac are easily within reach. All in all, the city is well-deserving of the popular acclaim leveled at it, and with its relatively small size, it’s a great place to get lost, since you can easily find your way back.
Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb might not have the picturesque beaches of other Croatian favorites, but it’s perfect for strolling and memorable nights out on the town. From the incredible coffee you can enjoy at its cafés, to its boisterous roster of annual events, and the cobblestoned streets of its Upper Town, this underrated city has a whole lot to offer.
What’s more, it’s home to a thriving nightlife, and with the sheer variety of live-music venues, bars, and nightclubs on offer, we can confidently say that it’s one of the liveliest cities in the country and one of the best places in Croatia for young people. Adding to its reputation, this vibrant capital is host to the popular INmusic festival every June, which is a three-day event taking place at Lake Jarun.
There’s plenty to see and experience for art lovers and foodies as well. Highlights include the Museum of Contemporary Art, which houses historic Croatian computer art and abstract-geometric works, and the Dolac Market, where you’ll fresh local produce. That being said, you shouldn’t miss out on the chance to sample the regional cuisine in the otherworldly bistros and charming cafés you’ll find in Teslina, Gajeva, and Bogovićeva near the main square.
Less than 20 miles away from Sibenik, you’ll find the idyllic seaside town of Tisno. It’s gained quite a reputation as a party destination in recent years, thanks to the array of summer haunts that come alive in the high season and the three popular music festivals hosted on its shores. While its beaches are generally quite tranquil, Tisno is an excellent family-friendly destination too, but you can always find the party if you’re looking for it.
Open-air clubs, trendy bars, and cafés flank the beaches and the streets of its endearing Old Town. The locals are notoriously friendly, adding to the town’s relaxed vibe.
Tisno doesn’t have any shortage of natural beauty either, and the captivating national parks are worth exploring. There are plenty of adventurous activities on offer to keep young people and adrenaline junkies entertained. Some of these include deep-sea diving, horse riding, bungee jumping, and mountain biking, to name just a few. As the icing on the cake, the town center is set on ancient ruins along the water and offers a host of guided tours scaling the ancient Roman ramparts scattered around the area.
Frequently described as the Ibiza of Croatia, Pag is undoubtedly one of the most exciting and captivating islands in the Adriatic sea. Pag has gained a well-deserved reputation as a party hotspot, thanks to the slew of music festivals hosted, but it’s also well connected to neighboring hotspots like Zadar, Rab, and Lošinj, making it a great stop-off on an island-hopping adventure or cruise.
You’re more than likely to find a host of incredible beach clubs on the internationally acclaimed Zrće beach, with many hosting regular concerts and international DJs in the high seasons, in addition to boat tours and pool parties. Still, there are plenty of other beaches you can visit, some of which serve as private resorts and outdoor terrains for volleyball, tennis, and other sports.
Then there are the magnificent national parks like the Brijuni island chain and Plitvice Lakes, all reachable on day trips from Pag and where you can enjoy recreational activities like kayaking, canoeing, and diving. Everything considered Pag is a great base to suit every taste. The island might be surprisingly barren and more laidback than others when the beach clubs aren’t in full swing, but the balmy, Mediterranean climate and exclusive feel make it one of the best places to relax in tranquility or jump into a party tour.
Nestled in the heart of Slavonia, is the bubbly city of Osijek, the region’s cultural and economic hub. It might be underrated and often discarded in place of coastal cities, but this makes the landlocked metropolis all the more worth visiting. It’s the fourth-largest city in Croatia and provides a different cultural experience for visitors who don’t want to spend their days lounging out on the beach.
Once serving as a military base, nestled close to the Serbian border, Osijek is still overflowing with well-preserved 18th-century architecture as well as a host of inspiring urban developments. The city also has a surprisingly vibrant nightlife and culinary scenes.
One of the most popular attractions is the baroque Tvrđa fortress, formerly a military complex and now a cultural center and regarded landmark. Intersecting streets with an eclectic mix of clubs, bars, exceptional restaurants, and educational institutions can all be found here in the center. Another highlight is the Upper Town, also known as Gornji Grad, where you’ll find most of the city’s historical sites, in addition to more bars, restaurants, and cafes serving authentic Balkan cuisine. The charming Drava river cuts through the city and you can catch a ferry from multiple stops to any of the charming restaurants operating on moored boats. There’s also the city zoo and a host of fascinating galleries, including the regional archaeological museum to explore.
Better yet, Osijek is much cheaper than coastal Croatia, with prices for food and alcohol costing sometimes half of that on glitzy islands like Hvar. Osijek is one of the best places in Croatia for young people hoping to save some pennies, get their dose of culture, and savor a taste of authentic urban Croatian life.
Is Croatia good for young people?
With its party islands, sprawling beaches, international festivals, and cheaper prices than nearby Mediterannean hotspots, Croatia has become one of the best holiday destinations in Europe for young people. Croatia’s cities and old towns are all unique, but each has left its own mark on the nightlife scene and you can find music events and clubs at every corner of the country from Zagreb to Zadar. The diverse landscapes and rich ancient history also offer something for every crowd and Croatia is great for outdoor fun.
Is Croatia safe?
No country is without its flaws, and big cities will always have higher crime rates, but violent crime is quite uncommon in Croatia and it’s one of the safest countries in the world for solo travel. Petty theft is also a worry, especially in busy touristy areas, but women shouldn’t hesitate to travel alone as long as general safety precautions are taken. The vibrant nightlife should nudge travelers to stick to their limits and behave responsibly, but Croatia is not an unsafe nation on the whole.
When is the best time to visit Zagreb?
With mild autumns, chilly winters, showery springs, and hot summers, Zagreb benefits from a desirable temperate climate but summer is undeniably the most favorable time to visit. After the spring rains have made their periodic appearance, things start to heat up in May and average highs hover in the low 80s until mid-September. July and August can be uncomfortably warm, and also the busiest and most expensive times to visit, no thanks to the school holidays. For these reasons, consider heading to Croatia’s capital in May and June, or September and October to avoid the crowds and bag some discounts.